NEW TECHNOLOGY AND NEW FORMS OF COLLABORATION ARE

CREATING CIRCULAR FLOWS

Stena Recycling's new Circular Initiative for sustainability puts the focus on an important societal challenge and is attracting decision-makers from Sweden's largest industrial companies. Several projects for developing circular material flows are already underway.

“A few years ago, sustainability was a secondary issue, but today we can see that it’s increasingly becoming a part of companies’ business strategies. Development has rapidly advanced and we’re both proud and happy that there are so many of us here today.”

This was the message from Kristofer Sundsgård, CEO for Stena Recycling, at the first major meeting within Circular Initiative. The new initiative is an arena for cross sector collaboration.Two-hundred attendees from industry, academia and government came to learn more and to identify collaborative forms for contributing to circular material flows. Representatives from ABB, Stora Enso, Electrolux and Combitech took the stage to describe their visions and projects.

“The idea with the initiative is to open the way for new collaborative forms,” says Lovisa Andersson from Stena Recycling, project manager for the Circular Initiative. “If we’re to achieve circular material flows, companies from various industry sectors must look for ways to collaborate in order to establish concrete plans of action and measures. 

Initially, the companies may not appear to have any common denominators, but once we sit down at the same table, I’m convinced that we’ll quickly discover new opportunities. One man’s waste is another man’s asset. We’re also convinced that new technology in digitalization and AI will strongly contribute to circular material flows.” 

The initiative is yet another step in Stena Recycling’s work to lead the way when it comes to sustainable solutions for a circular economy.

“For companies to be sustainable, it’s not enough with converting from fossil fuel to green electricity,” says Mattias Nilsson, sales and marketing manager at Stena Recycling. “They must also begin looking at their resource management. This is an area in which we can help companies with our expertise.”

The main purpose of the event in Stockholm was to welcome more participants to the arena, where decision-makers can meet and discuss how materials can be used more responsibly. From Stena Recycling’s side, it is important to go beyond discussions to concrete projects. The collaboration between Stena Recycling, ABB, Combitech and Electrolux is a good example, where tests are conducted for how robot technology and AI can improve the recycling of electrical products. 

Despite planning for the Circular Initiative having only begun at the end of last year, attendance and engagement were considerable. Jacob Wallenberg, chairman of the Swedish investment company Investor, was one of those who took the stage to share his visions:

“We’ve now reached a point where society is demanding that industry take responsibility. If you don’t engage in sustainability, you’ll lose both customers and employees – your company won’t survive. But if you address these issues in the right way, you’re not only supporting global goals for the environment, your business will probably do better as well.” 

The idea is that the Circular Initiative will become an annual event, but with work underway throughout the year.

“What it’s about now is identifying all the existing initiatives and seeing if there are others who want to collaborate on different projects,” says Mattias Nilsson. “Next is to bring the projects we’ve now started to completion so that we can present them next year.”

CIRCULAR MATERIAL FLOWSCircular material flows entail using products already produced instead of producing new. The recycling branch plays a decisive role in this. There is potential both in cost savings and in reduction of environmental impact. Circular material flows reduce dependence on our finite resources.
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